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#383170 - 02/21/08 08:14 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: JM2007]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Quote:

Dannyl_k, et al,

I think one of the confusions here, which also seems to complicate many other areas of this and other martial arts forums, is that we have to understand the two main halves of running a martial arts school (as opposed to just teaching martial arts) which are teaching and business management. As much as many people don't like to associate making money with teaching martial arts, the fact is that sometimes they (necessarily) go hand in hand. It is often assumed that if someone is making money they are a McDojo, which I personally believe is not always the case. You may be able to teach a part-time class for free, but I don't know of any schools or instructors who teach full-time and are open every day who don't charge or make money. Just because a school is non-profit does NOT mean they provide better instruction.

Having said that, there have been, in my humble opinion, some good suggestions here. From good conversational techniques to ensuring that you're not coming across as a "salesman", I think (almost) everything said here, pro and con, is worth listening to. You definitely want to make sure your ability to speak on the phone is natural and creates interest in the person on the other side, however, you certainly don't want to sound like a salesperson. In fact, in my opinion, if I have to "sell" you on training in my school (as opposed to sharing some information about what we do and simply offering you the oportunity to watch or experience), then you probably wouldn't make a good fit anyway. In my experience, many people who had to be convinced to sign up at a certain martial arts school a) didn't really want to be there, b) tend to wish they had researched more schools and had better choices, c) felt like they were pressured into joining, and d) had a bad taste in their mouth about the school. So, in essence, I think it is important to NOT have to "sell" them on joining your school, but rather to help them make an educated decision about what you do and why you do it better...if in fact you TRULY believe your program is better for their needs than someone else's program. If you believe that everyone who walks through your door is right for your school...you're a McDojo.

Now, I am going to contradict myself a little. When I mention "sales" or "selling", I am speaking in terms of using particular sales tactics that are pressuring, in ANY WAY to the potential student. The reality of the situation, or of life in general, is that almost everything you do is sales in some way, shape or form. When you ask someone out...you are trying to sell yourself. When you ask for a raise, you are selling your worth to the company. When you make a suggestion to a boss, co-worker, friend, you are trying to sell your idea. When you write a paper for school, you are trying to sell your knowledge (the more you know and better you state it...the higher you are paid...just with a grade). The point is, everything in life is sales, so I think it is important to understand how to sell yourself, your program, and why you think whatever you are doing is right for that person. Even if you are teaching for free. If you are teaching for free and truly trying to help someone out, isn't still important to be able to properly explain to them WHY and HOW what you do is good for them. I would rather pay someone who teaches a better program than train for free under someone who has a poor program.

The real question is, how do you get to the point where you can determine whether or not what you teach is best, or even suitable, for their particular needs? I personally think if you can articulate that piece, the potential student is much more likely to come in and look at the school and see if it's a good fit.

If all they want to know is how much you cost, tell them. Don't lie...be upfront. However, also find out what their needs are make sure you can fill them...then invite them to come take a look and talk more in-depth with you.

Just my opinion...respectfully, Jason




Yes, yes, and yes. That is a big part of what is on my mind.

How do I tell if this is right for someone, well if they are looking for a good challeging workout that they can still take at there own pace - then yes. Sport karate and tournaments - no.

We don't do tournaments and thats because the stuff we teach is only self-defense, we could use very little of what we learn in a tournement because they would be illegal hits (from the rules I've seen in tournaments).

However, If your looking for personal instruction to get better - then yes

This list can go on and on. I'll know the signs if its not for them, and if it leaves a bad taste in there mouth, then I understand this isn't for them.

At least, however, I want them to have a good impression of the school even if they don't stay.

Its going to cost money, I'm not made of it. I'll need a building, equipment, supplies, uniforms, insurance, and etc.

Teaching for free? Not and opition for me

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#383171 - 02/21/08 08:26 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: trevek]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Quote:

Using Sir or Madam really depends what the everyday protocol is where you live. I imagine in Tennessee it would be the order of the day.

In Britain I'd always say Sir or madam when I first answer the phone until I find out what they want. Then I can ask their name. Depending if they answer John or John Smith, or Mr Smith I then decide what to call them.

Remember, you aren't trying to sell them anything, as such, you are helping them make a decision which is good for both of you.




Yes on the last sentence too - everyone knows where I am coming from and I understance where your coming from. That is what the phone conversation should be about, making the decision. So what effects your decision? Depends on what kind of person you are

1) Are you partial to sir/ma'am or your name
2) How to do want to try out a class
3) How much information do you want (that one shouldn't be hard to tell
4) and Are you comfortable talking to me


My dad said something to me when I asked him about this. He told me

"You as a lady, no guy is going to want to tell you no. It makes him look like he doesn't have money. A guy is a bit self conscious if he doesn't have money when meeting girls."

Ok this makes no sense and he's dead set that he's right. Guys, if I was going to open a contract with you or talk to you over the phone, does that stop you from saying no?

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#383172 - 02/21/08 08:35 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Don't mean to be cynical here...but this is starting to sound like 'telemarketing'. Having worked that dreadful job, I know it's all about 'getting something', a committment or a sale, before one hangs up the phone.

I don't think students should be 'selling' their teacher's product. If you are doing anything other than answering general questions, such as style name and time and place of class...I think you are being used.

Personally, I think Ed's suggestion was spot-on. My phone message would be:

'Hi. You've reached the phone of XXX MA studio. Thank you very much in your interest, but we only meet and interview potential new students in person. We would be happy to answer your questions either immediately before or after class. If you are still interested in our school after that, please bring comfortable clothes and be prepared to participate. We are located at XXX and class times are XXX.'

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#383173 - 02/21/08 08:53 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: harlan]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Harlan,

Telemarketing or not, as a student of a school, especially if you are a black belt or instructor at that school, it's important to know how to talk to prospective students, whether it's on the phone, a walk-in, or someone you talk to on the street. It's important to answer their questions knowledgeably, but to also encourage them to come to the school and get more information.

Fortunately, we don't have to answer the phone, but I've had to answer questions of people who walk in off the street, or even in completely random places, like the gas station.

Laura

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#383174 - 02/21/08 08:55 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: tkd_high_green]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Oh. I forgot that in other systems 'black belt' means they are knowledgable.

I know how to talk to people, and give a general history, prices (if applicable)...but the 'selling' aspect should not be done by students. It should be done by the teacher, in person.

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#383175 - 02/21/08 09:35 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: harlan]
tkd_high_green Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 1031
Loc: Vermont
Harlan,

Anyone who works for, trains at, or is anyway associated with a school is capable of "selling" the school. Word of mouth is the biggest "seller" of our program. Friends and family of students already training, etc.

I was "sold" the program by my cousin, who spent months convincing me I should join.

Granted most people are not in the position to have to answer the school phone, but that doesn't mean they won't have to answer questions asked by someone who walks in off the street, or by someone they talk to at the grocery store.

If and when you are the highest ranked representative of the school available, you are responsible for answering questions of anyone who walks off the street. In many cases, you can be very polite and say, well based on my experiences...x...but if you want more information, you can call this number, or come back at this time to talk to the owner.

Laura

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#383176 - 02/21/08 10:15 AM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: tkd_high_green]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

There is a fine line between 'selling' something...and indirectly or directly representing a school. I've known people for years before I discovered that they trained in a Martial art, and had BB's. Do they 'represent' their art? Hard to say. But they definitely were not trying to 'sell' me anything before, or after, I learned of their involvement in MA.

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#383177 - 02/21/08 04:17 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
An "open house week"? Hummmngh, an interesting thought. I wonder how many places still keep a "closed door policy"? In the context of the topic, do you invite them to bring a friend with them?

Does that also fly if it were a wrestling, Judo or MMA class? (ie something with ~armpit distance~ contact as a normal funcion of their classes)

Jeff

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#383178 - 02/21/08 05:02 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Dannyl_K]
Ronin1966 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/26/02
Posts: 3113
Loc: East Coast, United States
Hello Dannyl:

Its an interesting question... what value does their name have? Not being disengenous, truly not sure I understand the "why" it would be helpful? But, I would think you'd get theirs when you steered them to the specific class they'd learn most from visiting...

"... we have two (X number) of beginner classes for adults one on Monday and the other Thursday at 6:22pm . The parking lot is to the left... park there and simply come through the door.... class lasts for 49 minutes and if you have any questions... anyone can certainly help but please feel free to ask for me, my name is Dannyl... yours is.... ? I'll be more than happy to answer any other questions that come up you might have then..."

As for sir/maam .... perhaps when you meet them, as a "politeness" possibly. But phone formality I think could have certain risks... a personal bias on my part. As for which.... ask, or answer I suppose depends on the personality on the other end of the phone, I would think. If they have questions, "would you like me to send you an email with our FAQ brochure" attached? I could also send it via mail if you prefered, however that obviously takes a lot longer... May I send you one? I can have that out between the next two classes tonight, if you'd like.



Merely my opinion, I could surely/easily be mistaken,
Jeff

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#383179 - 02/21/08 05:09 PM Re: How to answer the phone.. [Re: Ronin1966]
Dannyl_K Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 35
Heres the deal, if you don't get the student "committed" to coming in, will they ever come in? Will they just forget and in a sense leave me hanging?

As customers - selling, persuading, convincing sound like dirty words we don't want to associate with. But nevertheless its is a business - business cannot survivor without people.

The trick is to take away the cliche commercialism, the "telemarketing vocabulary, and the usual slogans.


Staight up since I've started this thread it began with cost. How to handle the cost question. Answer: be honest and just lay it on the line, but get them to try it too regardless of cost you just never know.

Then we switched to what would be the best way to "convince people to come in" and we agreed to disagree on how to do this. Its like trying to get a stranger to do something for you - its easier when its your friend so get to know them.

But I have to ask: if you call of course I have to tell you about my school, cost, etc. thats why you called. Besides basic phone ettiquette we aren't agreeing on anything here.

But I think we can agree on this

Talking to someone on the phone, what throws up the WARNING flag in your mind? (like when people dodge questions) and for those with past/current experience in this (like Bwhite and harlan) what mistakes did you make that you knew you had screwed up?


Edited by Dannyl_K (02/21/08 05:13 PM)

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